In Spanish “mundo” means “world.” The phrase “todo el mundo” means everyone, but it also means “all the world.” I find this quite descriptive of Costa Rica. Relationships are very important. In the countryside everyone knows everyone and if not, they simply have to ask a neighbor if they know someone. In this way news travels fast and reputation is very important.
I had a little adventure with collecting my green water bottle. One Sunday I went with the family to a party for the first communion of Luz’s niece. There, Memo took me to the next town to retrieve my water bottle, but the family wasn’t there. Then we went to take care of the cows and pick up some bananas. Memo asked a friend if he knew the Valverde family, and Memo’s friend happened to know where they lived and when they would be back at the house. So, we went back to the house and waited for them for a while. Unfortunately, they didn’t arrive soon enough for me to retrieve my bottle.
A couple of weeks later, headed in the same direction of the Valverde family, I called ahead and asked if they were home. They were, so Memo drove me over to their house. It turned out he knew the husband in the family, just didn’t know his name. I got my water bottle and came to the conclusion that Costa Ricans really do know “todo el mundo.”
It seems to be quite easy to know everyone, or at least know someone who knows someone. Here, people are very friendly. There’s at least five or more phrases to greet someone. For family and friends a kiss on the cheek is common for hellos and goodbyes. In the countryside people generally say “adios” (goodbye) when just passing by because “hola” invites more conversation. There’s no need to hitchhike in the countryside because you’re likely to get a ride without asking. The driver usually stops and asks where are you going and even if they can’t take you all the way, they’ll take you part way. Memo is one of those drivers likely to give you a ride. With all these little customs, it’s easy to meet people and know half the country.